The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

April 4, 2014

In Our Opinion: Make informed decision on flood insurance

The Daily Star

---- — To buy flood insurance, or not to buy flood insurance.

That is the question, and it is becoming even a tougher question as changes in the National Flood Insurance Program are expected to bring sizable premium increases for about 1.1 million policy holders nationwide, including an estimated 60,000 in New York state.

The time to decide is not when you see animals lining up two-by-two in front of a large ship.

The time is now.

Some people don’t realize that their homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. Simply put, if a storm tears your house’s roof off and things in your house sustain water damage from the rain, that’s not a flood, and you’re probably covered. But once the rain hits the ground and water flows into your home, you’re not covered unless you have flood insurance.

This is how the National Flood Insurance Program defines a flood.

“A general and temporary condition of partial or complete inundation of two or more acres of normally dry land area or of two or more properties (at least one of which is your property) from overflow of inland or tidal waters, from unusual and rapid accumulation or runoff of surface waters from any source, or from mudflow.”

While floods can happen virtually anywhere, they occur most often in high-risk zones, where your mortgage lender almost certainly requires you to purchase flood insurance. If you’re not living in one of those zones and your community belongs to the National Flood Insurance Program, you don’t have to buy flood insurance.

The program has taken some big financial hits with payouts after Hurricane Katrina, Super Storm Sandy and Hurricane Irene. So, some of our neighbors are looking at an 18 percent increase in premiums.

According to an analysis of federal flood insurance data by the Associated Press, the increases in the premiums are expected to hit more than 700 property owners in Delaware County.

Incomplete data for Otsego and Schoharie counties revealed that 19 homeowners in Oneonta are facing increases. In Schoharie County, there are 48 in Cobleskill and 35 in Middleburgh. In Greene County, 26 policy holders in Prattsville are looking at those higher premiums.

Twenty percent of flood claims come from owners of buildings in moderate-to-low-risk areas. Rather than automatically paying for flood insurance or — worse —  just hoping your house doesn’t incur flood damage, we recommend going to the NFIP website,, where you can find out —among other important things — just how much in jeopardy your home may be from potential floodwaters.

The price hike is unfortunate, but given the basic math, not unreasonable. Paying a little — or a lot — more now, can save you a lot more later on.